Residents, firefighter injured in apartment fire

The Cranbrook apartments on Ella near Rushworth caught fire around 6:20am. (John Mizwa)

February 15, 2012 10:47:53 AM PST
Two people and a firefighter are recovering after an early morning fire at an apartment complex in north Harris County.

There could have been more injuries had it not been for the quick action of some of the people who live at the complex off Ella near Rushworth.

It took six departments more than three and half hours just to get the fire under control this morning. Dozens of homes were destroyed in the fast moving blaze but after combing through all of the debris the fire marshal has confirmed that everyone is accounted for.

Two young men say they owe their lives to their quick-thinking aunt.

"She had woke us up and told us we had to hurry up and get out because the fire might spread," said resident Kenneth Cole.

When a fire broke out at the apartment complex the woman immediately woke them up and got them out as the flames were approaching.

"It was going fast. The blaze was really, really hot and we were scared it was going to keep jumping to the next building," said fire victim Corlissa Thomas.

"It smelled like smoke, like real big, thick smoke and when we opened the door and it was really thick smoke. It was a blaze. It was pretty bad," said Dashawn Thomas.

Initial reports say the two-alarm blaze was caused by a woman's oxygen tank.

"The lady that was on oxygen got up this morning to make coffee. Her oxygen line got on the burner of the stove, which melted the line and started the fire," said Lt. Chad Shaw with the Harris County Fire Marshall's Office.

Two residents were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and one firefighter was hurt when a hose broke, striking his back. The roof of the 32-unit building collapsed, destroying or damaging dozens of apartments and trapping some residents inside who had to be rescued.

"When I opened my door to come out I couldn't see anything, there was so much smoke so I was going to try to hop off the patio but then it calmed down so I just got out," said resident Misty Paris.

Most fire victims lost everything but Thomas has renter's insurance, setting yet another example to her nephews about preparing for and reacting to an emergency.

"I have to protect them," she said.

The Red Cross is at the apartment complex, working with some of the displaced residents. The management office says they believe that they can find other units at some of their surrounding properties for those residents.